February in Southern Illinois has been more like typical May kind of weather. We slid around most of the rainfall here at the farm and saw 70 degrees for several days. The last part of our calving season was much easier than we had expected. With no mud and cold temperatures we really didn’t have much babysitting to do. It helped us focus on sorting fat cattle and harvesting last year’s crop. The barn is half empty and we expect the remainder to go out this next month.
The mild weather has helped keep the brood cows together this winter. Most cows are reaching peak lactation and the cold wet weather makes it a challenge to keep them on a positive plain of energy. Feed costs have been easy and hay supply has held out better than expected. I realize March can be a “bear”, but I am optimistic that it will be an early spring.
Calving season is over and we are already planning for breeding season. I have some data that has come back from the first couple of truckloads harvesting this year. The reps from ABS were here this past week and we spent the afternoon evaluating carcass data and selecting next year’s A.I. sires. I had a list already made out on what I thought might be a good selection. They gave me a better insight and we made a few adjustments. It is really easy to get too focused on a single trait and searching for the “home run”, and forget about the big picture. I started artificially breeding cows about 25 years ago. I sent my first load of finished steers out in 2006. They averaged 1255lbs. and graded 50% choice. They were a great set of feeder calves. Selling feeder calves was our goal up to this point. Since then we have changed our direction and have made the adjustments to raise a better quality market animal and brood cow. Technology has done an amazing job on measuring feed efficiency and helping producers put together a calf crop that is more productive.